This blog was updated at 10:30 a.m.
Beginning in the next few weeks, Dell notebooks and desktops will be for sale at Best Buy, the companies announced Thursday.
Several models of XPS and Inspiron PCs will be available at 900 Best Buy locations, including the XPS M1330 in white, the Inspiron 1521 in blue and black, the Inspiron 1420 in black, and the all-in-one XPS One desktop. Other available desktops will be the Inspiron 530, 531, and 531s. More models and colors will be added in the next few months, Dell said.
This is a huge step for the company that strictly sold PCs and peripherals directly to consumers for the first two decades of its existence. Now Dell, which pioneered the model that cut out the PC retailer, will be just one of the other names on the shelf at retail--right next to Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, Acer, and Toshiba.
Of course, Best Buy is not the first retailer Dell has partnered with, but Best Buy is different than Wal-Mart or Staples. It's the largest consumer electronics retailer in the U.S., and this announcement marks a huge cultural shift at the Round Rock, Texas, PC maker.
"It's a big step for them. It's risky, but it's a gamble they had to make," said Richard Shim, PC market analyst for IDC. Dell has been ceding market share to HP for several quarters. As of the third quarter of this year, Dell shipped 27.8 percent of PCs sold in the U.S. HP is right behind with 24.1 percent of PCs shipped.
Chief executive Michael Dell said last week during the company's earnings call with investors that more retail partners would be announced in some of the largest countries in the world. The Best Buy deal brings the number of retail locations that sell Dell PCs to more than 10,000 worldwide, Dell said.
All of those retailers have been added in the last six months, since the company first announced it would establish a retail presence, beginning with Wal-Mart and Sam's Club in May. Since then, it has added Carphone Warehouse in the U.K., Bic Camera in Japan, Gome in China, and Staples.
"It's going to be hard for them to make this change," said Shim. "(Dell is) used to having a very intimate relationship with customers." Part of that relationship is upselling customers on additional Dell items. "Now it's no longer Dell saying, 'Hey, buy our printer.' Now it's a retail sales guy saying that if you buy a Dell system you can buy any one of these (other) printers."